to play football, not to play trumpet
While you're up there Glenn, go ahead and hang a banner.
These are banner muppets:
And you can't have one without the other…
For the second time in history a team with back-to-back losing records in its conference is probably going to the dance. The last time was Virginia in the brutal ACC of the 1990s. The next will most likely be Minnesota in this year's Big Ten.
This is the conference Michigan just clinched.
|WHAT||Michigan (20-7, 12-3 B1G) vs. Minnesota (18-11, 7-9)|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||6 pm Eastern, Saturday|
|LINE||Michigan -9 (KenPom)|
|TV||BTN (PBP: Eric Collins; Analyst: Jim Jackson)|
Right: Like father, like son. [via]
While Michigan can't clinch an outright Big Ten title this weekend, they've already moved closer to a share of the title since the comeback against Purdue. This is thanks to respective losses at Indiana and Penn State for Iowa and Ohio State, who have been thusly mathematically eliminated from contention. Even before that occurred, the Wolverines had a 98% chance of winning at least a share of the conference crown. A win coupled with an Illinois upset at Michigan State on Saturday would ensure a banner, though that scenario has just a 12% chance of occurring, per KenPom.
THE PREVIOUS MATCHUP
In both teams' Big Ten openers, Michigan knocked off Minnesota at The Barn, 63-60, thanks to huge contributions off the bench from Jon Horford (14 points, 6/8 FG, 9 rebounds) and Zak Irvin (15 points on 5/8 3-pt). The white-haired woman on the baseline didn't take this well.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold:
|G||4||Deandre Mathieu||Jr.||5'9, 165||72.9||24.0||No|
|Explosive, gets to rim for majority of shots, solid finisher, lots o' assists & TOs|
|G||1||Andre Hollins||Jr.||6'2, 195||71.1||24.7||Not at all|
|Excellent outside shooter, not great inside arc, draws lots of fouls, 83% FT|
|G||20||Austin Hollins||Sr.||6'4, 190||80.3||20.0||Kinda|
|At best off dribble, jumper failing him this season, top-100 in steal rate|
|F||24||Joey King||So.||6'9, 225||49.5||16.3||Kinda|
|Low usage, takes mostly jumpers, not a great shooter, very low rebound #s|
|C||55||Elliott Eliason||Jr.||6'11, 240||58.0||15.4||Very|
|Great rebounder and shot-blocker, low usage, generates offense w/ ORebs|
|G||30||Malik Smith||Sr.||6'2, 200||49.4||19.6||No|
|Unabashed 3-point gunner, hits 37% from beyond arc, rarely ventures inside|
|F||10||Oto Osenieks||Jr.||6'8, 220||45.3||16.9||Kinda|
|Nondescript backup big missed last game and may not play (knee)|
|F||15||Maurice Walker||Jr.||6'10, 250||32.4||24.3||Very|
|Excellent offensive rebounder, good finisher, draws and commits lots of fouls|
Minnesota is riding high after Tuesday's home triumph over Iowa, but they haven't defeated a team within KenPom's top 70 away from The Barn this season; in fact, their only Big Ten road wins came at the expense of Penn State and Northwestern. They managed to take Michigan State to overtime, only to lose by 13, which is rather remarkable. Other road games against contenders haven't been close.
The Gophers' high-tempo attack is led by their three-guard backcourt, with each player bringing something different to the table. Point guard Deandre Mathieu doesn't let his diminutive stature prevent him from getting to the tin, as shown by this shot chart from UMHoops:
At 5'9", he's hitting 65.5% of his shots at the rim, per hoop-math; color me impressed. He's also hitting 46.4% of his three-pointers, though he's only attempted 28 this season. Mathieu boasts a top-60 assist rate that's unfortunately coupled with a healthy number of turnovers.
Fellow guards Andre Hollins and Austin Hollins (no relation) are both shooting near the 40% range for entirely different reasons. Andre is the rare high-volume/high-efficiency three-point shooter (38.7% on just over half his FGAs), while he's struggling to finish inside the arc (43.9%). Austin is more of a slasher and converts at a solid clip within the arc (54.5%), though he's mired in a season-long shooting slump that's seen his three-point percentage drop to 30.8. (It's worth noting he went 4/6 against Iowa, so he'll probably knock down every outside shot he takes tomorrow.) Austin is also an excellent rebounding guard, while Andre is adept at both getting to the free-throw line (52.0 FT Rate) and converting (82.9 FT%).
Joey King and Oto Osenieks normally split minutes at the four, but the latter's status is up in the air, per the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Oto Osenieks is out for the time being with a left knee injury. Basically, he had surgery on it seven years ago and the cartilage has been slowly wearing away. He said it's really bothering him to put pressure on it when he runs and jumps. He was supposed to get a shot for it today. "We'll see how it acts after that," he said
First of all, ouch. Second, even if Osenieks gives it a go, his minutes have waned significantly this month, in which he's 2/11 from two and 1/6 from three; the injury is affecting his play. King's been playing around 30 minutes a game recently; he's a decent finisher with shockingly low rebound rates (5.6 OR%, 9.2 DR%) for a 6'9" big.
Elliott Eliason and Maurice Walker are an effective one-two combo at center. Eliason is one of the nation's best rebounders and a very good shot-blocker. Walker does his best work on the offensive glass and, thanks to his wide frame in the post, he draws a lot of fouls; his inability to avoid foul trouble limits his minutes.
Guard Malik Smith provides an outside shooting specialist off the bench. Before Tuesday, 6'9" redshirt freshman reserve Charles Buggs would've gone without mention; then he scored 13 points on six shots against the Hawkeyes despite attempting just three field goals in the entire rest of the season. There's your name in bold, Mr. Buggs.
Mostly covered above. Minnesota is a totally different team at home—where they've knocked off Florida State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Iowa—than they are on the road; their most recent visit to a quality opponent ended in an 18-point blowout by Ohio State.
While Minnesota shoots the ball fairly well from both inside and outside the arc, their offensive efficiency is right around the D-I average due to their propensity to cough up the rock. It wouldn't be surprising to see Michigan break out the 1-3-1 a little more frequently than normal to try to take advantage—the Gophers are dead last in the conference in opponent steal rate allowed.
The Gopher defense, meanwhile, is a train wreck. They're last in the B1G in efficiency and no better than eighth in any of the four factors. They give up a ton of assisted baskets and allow opponents to shoot nearly 37% from three-point land.
The jump ball means the game has started. Obvious point is obvious: maybe don't let the opponent run out to an early double-digit lead this time, guys. We can't afford to have Brian actually have an aneurysm.
Derrick Walton's defense. Mathieu is a lightning-quick slasher at the point, and Michigan's had some trouble keeping quick guards in front of them—though they did limit Mathieu to nine points on 3/11 FG the first time around. The onus for defending him will fall mostly on Derrick Walton; while Spike Albrecht can do well against Mathieu when Michigan has the ball, that's not a matchup I like very much on defense. Walton has to play on his toes tomorrow on both ends, as Mathieu is also pretty good at stealing the ball and going the other way for an easy bucket.
Run when you can. Minnesota is turnover-prone and generally awful defensively. This sounds like a recipe for easy baskets. If Michigan can do as much in transition as Minnesota, a team that relies far more on generating points on the break than the Wolverines, they should find a relatively easy path to victory.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 9
Houston's D-League affiliate is a John Beilein wet dream. Brian Phillips just published an article on Indiana basketball that I'm gonna go ahead and assume is really good and worth your time.
Praise to all available deities. I know it's 50/50 whether this is real or "we want to be aggressive" annual offseason pablum, but I'm storing my cynicism because I need it to be the former. Devin Gardner:
"Practices are really fast, we get a lot of reps. This was probably the fastest practice I've ever been a part of ... I feel like, right now, there's a lot of energy in practice. I'm happy with it. ... Coach Nuss definitely pushes tempo, makes sure we get to the ball fast, get the calls out, do everything you need to do and then get the ball hiked. He's pushing that a lot. And sometimes we just go hurry-up to get more reps."
It was as if a million botched two-minute drills cried out, and then were silent. [Ed-S: ...were suddently silenced! ARGH YOU ALWAYS DO THIS!] If you have not wandered on to this site straight from the maternity ward of the local hospital still covered in amniotic goo you are aware of the author's tendency to engage in spittle-flecked rants when it comes to the idea that you must slow down your offense to protect your defense.
(I MEAN WHAT DOES THAT IMPLY ABOUT THE EFFECTIVENESS OF TEMPO?! YOU'RE FLAT OUT STATING THAT TEMPO IS DIFFICULT TO DEAL AND INSTEAD OF COMING TO GRIPS WITH IT YOU PREFER TO JUST NOT THINK ABOUT IT ARRRRRGH. I put this in parens so that you can't blame me for this spittle-flecked rant. I am invulnerable in here.)
So. More tempo means more reps, means more ability to go fast without sacrificing your ability to go slow, means the defense is better prepared to deal with teams that go fast, means less shoe-throwing as Michigan spends the last two minutes of the half imitating a newly-hatched sea turtle trundling towards the sea. All praise to modern football thinking.
…but I don't believe you for a second. While it appears that coaches are talking to the press when they talk to the press, they are in fact talking to their players. This one insight explains every bit of coachspeak ever: they speak in motivational parables designed to get people to try hard no matter how tenuous their relationship to something interesting or accurate.
So, when asked how he's evaluating his quarterbacks at this point, his answer was hardly surprising.
"We're going to evaluate everything, just like every other position on our offense," Nussmeier said. "We want to create competition, we want guys to go out and compete."
Articles about the "spring QB race" result. This space already had a spittle-flecked rant on this subject, so let me just reiterate that I will consume a rack of hats if Devin Gardner is not the clear starting quarterback.
Perpetually entertaining. If the Ed O'Bannon case does nothing other than bring to light internal NCAA emails that plainly admit that the NCAA is profiting off the likeness of their players, it will still be a worthwhile endeavor. (And it seems likely it'll do much more than that.) The latest quotes would be astounding if they weren't part of an ever-expanding genre:
Leeland Zeller writes back to the LSU official that an NCAA rules interpretation "clearly addresses" and prohibits "the use of the DVD as 'premium' in conjunction with a subscription. ... Regardless, SI does this every year. If the school asks about it, they are advised to send a cease and desist letter, which preserves the eligibility of the student-athletes. SI ignores the letter and we all go on about our business."
In other news, it was not a coincidence that the play by play guy could pronounce "Tebow," and EA was trying to weasel the names and faces of players into NCAA because it was just like television.
What was that? Episode two in "Brian crams Big Ten basketball talking into his UV because his other platform was stolen": what the hell was Iowa doing last night? They ended up losing 93 to 86 in a wild 83 possession game at Indiana.
Everyone knows Iowa likes to run and that's fine as it goes, but Iowa played directly into the hands of the Hoosiers by employing a half-assed 1-2-2 pressure that turned Indiana possessions into transition possessions, which is the last thing in the world you would ever want to do. And then several times they just did not run back on defense, leading to a parade of Will Sheehey layups. I was shocked that the combustible Fran McCaffery didn't throttle various players. It was thoroughly gross.
This one probably doesn't end like the Dr. V putter story. Everyone on twitter recommends this profile of Caris LeVert, because LeVert just put this out there in a press conference:
“Caris, have there been any defining moments in your life?”
He looks around an empty room, considering the question and the door it leads to.
“Well, on Easter of sophomore year of high school, me and my brother found my dad dead on our living room floor.”
Wow. Read the whole thing, as they say.
Help wanted. Hockey picks up a commitment from NAHL defenseman Sam Piazza, who had an interesting path to his commitment. It's not often you see a guy who was committed to Boston College for 2012 end up in the NAHL two years later. In Piazza's case a severe concussion held him out for at least five months in what was expected to be his final season of junior. Hockey DB shows just 18 games played for Piazza from 2010-12; BC deferred him, reasonably, and he ended up playing 25 games for Chicago before dropping to the NAHL level.
“Michigan had called me about two weeks before the Top Prospects Tournament, so I knew they would be watching,” the defenseman said. “After Top Prospects, they invited me to tour the campus. I was not expecting much, but they wound up offering right there.”
…so there's more expectation for success here than there would be with your usual 20-year-old late NAHL skater pickup. And this is of course excellent because Michigan needs defensemen badly. Coach quote:
“Sam is a powerful skater with great on-ice vision and stick skills. In the years I have been coaching junior hockey, I have not seen anyone with his vision on defense. When you couple that vision with his high-end stick skills, that is a tremendous combination for a hockey player,” Baxter said.
Center Ice has more.
Etc.: Joba Chamberlain scar smiley face zoom in. Needs "SOON" in last panel.
We believe the guy with the fake mullet managed to convince him it is, while acknowledging the recently greater popularity of Freesia. [Fuller]
Molecules of competitiveness. I don't get all of the WWE references in the Best and Worst columns. For example, would this qualify as a bodyslam or a chair to the face:
MSU hit a school record 17 3 pointers against Purdue, including 6 by Gary Harris. In their losses to Nebraska and UM, they hit 14 total out of 47, with Harris going 5 of 20. Apparently, those wrists, shoulders, and ankles were fine on Thursday but that long bus ride between East Lansing and Ann Arbor jostled all the bones out of sorts again.
Chair to the face I'm guessing, since most of the momentum was generated by Izzo's bouncing off the ropes, and bronxblue just put a hard object in the way. Either way it's pretty entertaining.
|Scientists think Morgan and Morris may have cohabitated in ancient Crisler, and may have even interacted.|
Creationists claim Jordan Morgan is less than 4,000 years old. The debate rages as ClearEyesFullHeart presented evidence that a Jordan Morgan-like creature was living in Crisler back when it was still called an arena. What appeared to be advice to competitors was found on cuneiform tablets that match Morgan's particular type of swagger. CEFH also suggested that J-Mo-anthropus may have domesticated dogs, and participated in battles against the ancient Greeks.
How bad can we make it? There is a singularly small type of person who sees a sexual assault expulsion and jumps for joy for the hammer with which he can pound a sports rival program on internet message boards. All fanbases have them, all fanbases are embarrassed by them. The best way to manage them is if the thought leaders, i.e. the journalists, maintain a high level of integrity and investigation, focusing on facts, providing context, and discouraging over-speculation. Good journalism is a thousand times better than good P.R.
If you're wondering why it's Sparties, of all roaches, doing most of the scuttling, it's because their media are 30% trolls themselves, 60% too biased to consider fighting the trolls, and the remainder aren't trying all that hard. I removed, at last count 13, fight-back threads this and last week, because there's nothing to be gained by criticizing the journalistic integrity of Mike Valenti or Graham Couch or Eric Thomas, etc. There's a certain type of person you just remove from the message board; if somebody's given him a broadsheet or a highly trafficked url or a 15,000-watt microphone instead, roll your eyes and ignore it.
The least we could hope for is for those without a dog in the fight to not be lazy with the publically available facts. Like how FERPA works (BiSB's fisk of MLive's attempt to get in on the Daily's glory). Or that the Ed Dept.'s involvement began when they used Title IX to tell the university to institute the policy they're reviewing, not last week, and that at last count 24 universities' policies were under investigation, with two more completed and seven more have had recent controversies. Or that a few minutes on the chief complainant's blog raises obvious credibility concerns that he should have to address when interviewed.
The Daily has continued to produce the best reporting on the subject, while the Detroit papers, SI, Huffington Post (to their credit they at least edited their article at the end with suggested corrections), and now Mlive have, while trying to play catch-up on the students, been caught biting at the chum of shock value while burying or ignoring the easy context. Prediction: in 10 years half of the metro-Detroit media will be replaced by former Dailyites and bloggers. Most of those who haven't will cater to Michigan State fans, because roaches are survivors.
Etc. Michigan is 98% to hang a banner. Ron Utah says the position changes are a Hail Mary and this inspires…confidence? Six of eight is a narrative-beater. DCAlum provided his eyewitness account of the MSU lining up fiasco. Goal-by-goal vs. Minnesota was too depressing for me to even read this week. LSA columns on win probability and home versus away stats.
[Jump for the best of the board, and the title reference]
Charity is good. Football is fun. Meeting former players is cool. One day before the Spring Game may be really cold, but that's not going to stop us from joining a heap of former Michigan players in a day of flag football and fun-having at Pioneer for charity. Wanna come?
The things of the goings on. The event will be a series of flag football games from 4-9 pm on Friday, April 4, between local kids' teams and two adult teams, each coached by a former Michigan player. Confirmed guys: Marlin Jackson (it's his event), Jason Avant, Jerome Jackson, Donovan Warren, Chris Perry, Cato June, Tim Massaquoi, Marcus Ray, Jeremy Gallon, Roy Manning, Brandon Williams, Jamar Adams, and Andy Mignery.
The adult game will be at halftime, after you've had some time to get coached up (and Heiko's had time to prepare his super-secret passing play for Gallon that he's been diagramming incessantly).
|If you find yourself with any of these guys there's a 66.7% you can talk about stuff you read on MGoBlog.|
After the games there will be an after-party for those who gave donations to hang out with the former players and collectively reminisce about Jason's catch against Iowa, or Jerome's 19-yard TD against Iowa, or Donovan's 3 PBU/1 INT performance against Iowa, etc.
The charity of the receiving. Marlin Jackson's Fight for Life Foundation is taking the same programming he's implemented so well in Indianapolis and launching it for Ann Arbor and environs. The programs give underprivileged kids access to critical educational opportunities. One's an SEL program for helping kids get and stay on track for their grade level in learning, reading, and communication skills. One's a program to give them access to artistic and self-actualization education (arts and music classes, basically). And one's a series of football camps so they can have access to things you get from team sports. Why we care.
The involvement of the you-like people. Want to be part of this? There are five sponsorship levels:
- Heisman ($5,000) – Great for a business looking to be a lead sponsor.
- All-American ($2,500) – Also great for a local business looking to be very visibly associated with this.
- All-Big Ten ($1,000) – Stepped down version of above.
Ha, Python joke. Or typo. Or maybe there's two more for those who want to play in the adult game:
- $250 – Gets you a roster spot
- $1500 – Gets you and five friends roster spots; you can all fight over the signed jersey.
Damien Harris: Not Gone, Gone, Gone, Woooooaaaahhhh
Sam Webb caught up with Damien Harris's mother in the wake of the former commit's visit last weekend; she had very positive things to say about Doug Nussmeier, and it sounds like her son still has Michigan on top ($):
“It was the same comfort,” Ms. Harris reported. “I know for me it was. I really haven’t gotten a chance to sit down with Damien and discuss it (at length) because he has been in school and practice since we got home. I did ask him (Monday) night, ‘did the feelings come back that you had initially with Michigan?’ He was like, ‘the feeling never left. I never loss [sic] any of the feeling that I had for Michigan.’
In fact, Ms. Harris went on to say that she believes her son's recruitment is a Michigan-OSU battle and the good guys have the edge. There are several visits yet to come—Alabama, Florida, FSU, Miami, and Wisconsin all got mentions—and a long way to go until Signing Day, when Harris now plans to announce his decision. Still, this is a very positive sign, and per 247's Steve Lorenz, Harris may be back on campus in the near future ($):
"I haven't talked to Damien about it yet, but I believe we will be back up in the spring, and possibly the summer too," [Ms. Harris] said. "There are other schools he's looking to visit right now, and if we're not able to make it during the off-season, we will be up for at least one game."
All indications since Harris's decommitment have been that Michigan is still his favorite school and he just wants to utilize the entire recruiting process to check out other schools and ensure he makes a well-informed decision. In my opinion, nothing has changed there; if anything, Harris developing a relationship with Nussmeier has only strengthened Michigan's position.
Speaking of top 2015 targets, in-state four-star ATH Brian Cole also visited over the weekend, he told Tim Sullivan what he's looking for in his recruitment ($):
"I'm just trying to find the truth," he said. "That's basically it, just trying to find the truth, see who's real and not real. I don't know how I'll figure it out.
"Everybody's even. Everybody's No. 1 right now."
Michigan State and Michigan have been his presumed leaders for a while, with the Spartans seemingly holding the edge. Cole had to cancel a planned trip to Wisconsin recently that he plans to reschedule; he's also fielding increased interest from Alabama and could visit there, too.
[Updates on Michigan's 2015 defensive back commits, a look at U-M's options at linebacker, and more after THE JUMP.]